- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Viking (4 April 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670920444
- ISBN-13: 978-0670920440
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life Hardcover – 4 Apr 2013
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A superbly written explanation of how the origin of life on Earth became a question for science, and what the answer might be (Brian Cox)
One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade ... You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology ... Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet (Nick Lane Observer)
Prepare to be astounded. There are moments when this book is so gripping it reads like a thriller. Fascinating (Mail on Sunday)
This is a quite delightful two books in one. It is becoming increasingly clear that the 21st is the century of biology. This book is the perfect "story so far" (Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox)
An engaging account of both the mystery of life's origin and its impending resolution, as well as a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology (Matt Ridley, author of Genome)
A witty, engaging and eye-opening explanation of the basic units of life, right back to our common ancestors and on to their incredible synthetic future. The mark of a really good science book, it shows that the questions we still have are just as exciting as the answers we already know (Dara O Briain)
In this book of two halves, Rutherford tells the epic history of life on earth, and eloquently argues the case for embracing technology which allows us to become biological designers (Alice Roberts)
The perfect primer on the past and future of DNA ... Rutherford tells his stories with great brio and a disarming line in personal commentary (Guardian)
I warmly recommend Creation. Rutherford's academic background in genetics gives him a firm grasp of the intricacies of biochemistry - and he translates these superbly into clear English (Financial Times)
Fascinating ... The extraordinary science and his argument are worth every reader's scrutiny (Sunday Telegraph)
Suspenseful, erudite and thrilling (Prospect)
A fascinating glimpse into our past and future ... [Rutherford] argues persuasively against those who seek to hold back scientific progress. His illuminating book is full of optimism about what we might be able to achieve (Sunday Times)
About the Author
Dr Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, writer and broadcaster, whose work includes the award-winning series The Cell (BBC4), The Gene Code (BBC4), Horizon: 'Playing God' (BBC2) as well as numerous programmes for BBC Radio 4. He is an editor at the science journal Nature, writes for the Guardian and has given numerous prestigious lectures, as well as appearing in the 'Uncaged Monkeys' tour.
Top Customer Reviews
The Origin of Life
The name kind of says it all. Only it doesn’t. Before we get to the origin of life, we first need a bit of preparation. This is ultimately the story of the history of life. But it is a story told in reverse, with the culmination being the story of the very beginning of life. So we begin not at the dawn of time but with a discourse on a very modern understanding of cell biology. This is something of an overview, familiar to many, but necessary if one is to locate the rest of this half of the book (and indeed the other half) in its rightful place.
So we get a very quick rundown on our understanding of evolution which runs broadly along the lines of many an account you will probably have read. He soon moves to a very important question....
What is life? It’s a necessary question and one that is deserving of a discussion. Adam recaps some of the definitions we should all be familiar with from our school days. Yet it certainly differed a bit from my school as I had always understood that while there was no set definition, viruses were a considerably grey area.Read more ›
Secondly, I personally didn't like the writing style. The number of analogies was too high and the quality of them was too low. There were far too many footnotes, which just ruin the flow of the book and interrupt any sort of rhythm that you manage to generate while wading through the average descriptions. Also, the writing itself was just grating, half chatty, half formal, and a strange use of 'jargon' where it was removed in some cases (both correctly and incorrectly) and inexplicably left in the text in other cases.
All in all, I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have a background in the topic, but whether it would have moved my rating up to a 3 is unlikely, as the writing itself was one of the major problems.
I particularly enjoyed flipping the book over to read from each 'half' of the work one bit at a time (though one could also read each half in its entirety just as easily), I felt that each part complemented the other perfectly.
The author's style is friendly without being colloquial, informed without being dogmatic and he seems to know just how far to delve into a topic to keep the material interesting. I particularly appreciate that Rutherford, like any good scientist, writes about implications, predictions, likelihoods and consensus, rather than just describing current theories as if they are hard facts.
I finished the book knowing a lot more about this rather elusive concept, 'life', but even better, I got a good sense of why we think the things we do about the origins and future of life.
Thoroughly enjoyable, informative and entertaining.
First the good points. Despite his very brief career of actually doing science, Adam has a reasonable breadth of knowledge of evolutionary genetics and synthetic biology, and quite of a lot of experience, through his job as a media editor at the journal Nature, in pitching his discussions for the intelligent lay person. He does this job well, certainly. One should not underestimate this - there are many professional academics who cannot do this, and if people like Adam do not have a stab, who is going to? Full-time academics like Dawkins, Jones and Stringer who can really write are rare - and one wonders how on earth they find the time. So far so good.
However, IMHO Adam has let himself down, and he has been let down by his publishers. Let me explain.
The first problem is that Adam thinks he has to jazz up the narrative with wordy trickery. I lost count of the number of times that an obscure word or metaphor was helicoptered in where there were several more usual alternatives. I have to say this is regrettably a common criticism of popular science authors - showing above all that they do not have faith that the material they are discussing can hold the readers' interest without these little explosions of verbal dexterity. For heaven's sake, if the origin and evolution of life, and its potential to be recreated in the future are not already topics of HUGE interest, something is seriously wrong.
Secondly, I am sorry to say Adam has suffered from a lack of competent copy-editing and proofreading.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
not my personal taste, but ill have one very happy dad come xmas.Published 7 months ago by Sam ShepCap
teacher thoroughly enjoyed this read it few times then uses it to give to students as further readingPublished 21 months ago by brisinger
Absolutely loved this book; it was entertaining, educational and not too complicated to understand despite the big ideas. Definitely would recommend.Published on 24 May 2015 by Laura
the imaginative thinking+scientific facts-backup is thought producing
Found it a difficult read, not because of the content but because I found the style of writing to be disjointed and messy.Published on 13 Oct. 2014 by Mr C R Kenworthy
Let's be clear: Adam Rutherford is a fine fellow whom I admire greatly, with thoroughly sensible views, and I won't hear a word said against him.
However. Read more
The first half is a good round-up of current thinking on the origin of life.
but the 2nd half on how we are starting to manipulate life was a bit sketchy and peremptory.